- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

No gays here

“[Gore] Vidal’s first book, ‘Williwaw,’ a war novel, was well received in 1946. But it was his third, ‘The City And The Pillar,’ an openly homosexual novel, published two years later (dedicated ‘To JT’) that influenced his life most profoundly.

“Vidal has consistently argued that the term ‘homosexual’ has no validity, because human sexuality is too complex and diverse to be reduced to binary terms. This was a nuance lost on publications such as the New York Times, which refused to review his next five novels. He retains a special contempt for the paper, ‘which never found a well it could not poison.’ …

“[Mr. Vidal says] ‘Homosexual and heterosexual are nouns that I would not use myself, it’s true. Nor would [Alfred Kinsey], when he was thinking. These are not semiological signs to a state of being. They aren’t saying anything at all. Except, you know, “I prefer rice to potatoes.” What great news that is. Tell it and gasp.’”

-Robert Chalmers, writing on “Gore Vidal: Literary feuds, his ‘vicious’ mother and rumours of a secret love child,” in the May 25 issue of the Independent

Generation chasm

“Unlike even their immediate antecedents, the latest electronic media are at once domestic, mobile and work-related, blurring the boundaries between these spaces, and video games are at their forefront, both in terms of the time users lavish on them and their ceaseless technological innovation.

“A generational rift has opened that is in many ways more profound than the equivalent shifts associated with radio or television: more alienating for those unfamiliar with new technologies, more immersive for those who are.

“How do lawmakers regulate something that is too fluid to be fully comprehended or controlled; how do teachers persuade students of the value of an education when what they learn at play often seems more relevant to their future than anything they hear in a classroom?”

-Tom Chatfield, writing on “Rage Against the Machines,” in the June issue of Prospect

Reagan myth

“The differences between [Jimmy] Carter and [Ronald] Reagan could not have been clearer. ‘Carter spoke philosophically of ambiguities and limits, Reagan spoke with splendid simplicity about an unbounded American future.’ Mr. Carter’s presidency was one of failure both at home and abroad while Reagan, [Sean] Wilentz writes, ‘promised a bright new future.’

“Moreover, Reagan’s conservatism was brought to the public in words that purposefully emulated those spoken by Roosevelt, whom Reagan had himself supported in the 1940s. Acknowledging Reagan’s conservative agenda, Mr. Wilentz argues that Reagan cannot be defined by simple terms such as conservative, hawk, or pro-business. Reaganism was unique, he writes, ‘its own distinctive blend of dogma, pragmatism, and above all, mythology.’

“He started his presidency promising deep tax cuts, an increase in defense spending, and an end to the federal deficit. But most importantly, Reagan pointed toward an end to the postwar syndrome of defeat abroad.”

-Ronald Radosh, writing on “Reagan’s World,” in the May 29 issue of the New York Sun

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